Disability insurance is sometimes referred to as income replacement because it pays you benefits to replace a portion of the income you lose if you’re unable to work due to a prolonged illness or injury. You’ll continue to receive benefits until you’re able to return to work or until you reach the end of your benefit period.
If you become too sick to work, or an injury keeps you out of work, and you have a long term disability policy in place, you’ll submit a claim along with information about your condition from your doctor. If your claim is approved, you’ll start receiving the benefits determined by your plan as soon as the waiting period has passed. The money is paid to you directly, and there are no limitations on how it can be spent.
Medical expenses and job loss are two of the most common reasons individuals file for bankruptcy.3 If you lost your income because you were injured or became too sick to work, would you be able to cover your living expenses, plus additional medical bills? For most people, the answer is no. And since Social Security benefits are typically less than your regular income, it’s important to have additional protections in place to help ensure your finances can stay on track even if you experience and unexpected illness or injury.
In addition to cancer, pregnancy and mental health issues, injuries and musculoskeletal diseases are among the top reasons for disability claims. Unlike Worker’s Compensation, long term disability insurance pays benefits whether or not your injury or illness is related to your job. And long term disability typically provides a larger benefit than Social Security Disability Insurance and with a higher likelihood that your claim will be covered. You can also purchase additional cancer, accident or critical illness insurance to supplement your long term disability benefits if you’re unable to work for one of those reasons.
Total long term disability insurance pays you benefits if an illness or injury leaves you unable to work in any capacity, and can pay you benefits up to the time you reach retirement age, depending on the details of your policy. Partial long term disability insurance pays you benefits even if you are able to work, but not at your full capacity, limiting your earnings.
Before buying a policy, you should know how much income you’ll need to replace if you’re unable to work, how long you can wait before you start to receive benefits, and how long you’ll need to receive benefits. Depending on your policy, disability insurance can replace up to 60% of your pre-tax income following a waiting period — sometimes called an “elimination period” — after a qualifying injury or illness initially occurs. Every policy is different, but a typical elimination period is usually 3 months. Benefit periods also vary by policy. Your benefit period can last 5, 10 or 20 years, or until you reach retirement, depending on the terms of your policy, so consider how man working years are ahead of you while comparing policies.
If you’re ill or injured and unable to work, you’ll submit a claim form along with a letter from your doctor and results of relevant tests to complete the claim. Your claim will be assessed and, if approved, you’ll begin receiving benefits as soon as your waiting period has passed.
To give you the best chance of resuming employment, a claims manager, nurse case manager and vocational rehabilitation specialist will be assigned to your case when you make a claim. Together, this team of specialists will help to support you as you recover and help assess when and if you can return to work. If you can return to work, but will need to change job roles to accommodate physical limitations, this team will also help you retrain for a new job and make a successful return to work.
Feranmi Okanlami was a star athlete and orthopedic surgery resident when an accident forever changed the course of his life. Watch his inspiring story to see how long term disability insurance helped him recover and return to a career in medicine.
Many employers offer group disability insurance benefits, sometimes at no additional cost to employees. Other employees offer it as an optional benefit, giving employees the chance to purchase a policy at a discounted group rate. If your employer doesn’t offer disability insurance, you can still apply for individual disability insurance yourself. Purchasing an individual policy gives you more flexibility to choose the best policy options for your unique situation. Even if your employer does offer long-term disability insurance, you may still wish to buy an individual policy to supplement the coverage of your employer-sponsored plan.
If you’re self-employed, your employer doesn’t offer disability insurance, or you want to supplement the policy your employers does offer, you can apply for an individual disability policy. Individual disability insurance elimination and benefit periods may differ from group disability insurance, but a financial representative can help you choose the right coverage for your situation. If you’d like some help understanding what type of coverage makes sense for you and applying for a policy, get in touch with a financial representative who can help you make a decision.
If you’re not ready to speak to a financial representative, but you’re curious how individual disability insurance would fit into your financial plan, get a free quote now.